A heartbroken teenager cannot face returning to the stables after her ‘life’, Dolly the horse, had to be put down because a heap of grass cuttings clogged up her stomach.
Hope Gimson, 15, who goes to The Cavenidsh School, spent her weekends at shows with Dolly, her five-year-old cob, and she was training to enter dressage competitions.
But after eating a pile of grass at Westwick Row Farm, the cuttings caused Dolly’s colon to twist and the vet said the damage was irreparable.
“Dolly was clearly suffering,” said Hope’s mum Donna, 43. “And, while it was the most heart-breaking decision Hope has ever had to make, I am so proud of her that she put Dolly’s needs before her own.
“She was Hope’s life, and she can’t bring herself to go up to the stables at the minute.
“Dolly was very lively, very cheeky, and she was loyal. She was pretty much only well-behaved for Hope. If it was someone else, she’d be like: ‘Leave me alone, you’re not my mum’.”
Donna, who lives in Gadebridge with Hope, engineer husband Lee, 46, and son Ben, 24, wants to warn other horse owners about the dangers of them eating certain things.
She said: “We want to educate people because it can be incredibly dangerous. Horses can’t get ill.
“You think they can eat grass but if it’s a big mass, they can’t digest it and it kills off the nerves in the stomach. It can be fatal like it was for us.
“Members of the public can cause all sorts of problems by feeding other people’s horses in their fields, because they are unaware of the potential dangers to the horses.”
The grass cuttings turned into a solid mass in Dolly’s stomach and the only option was emergency surgery at the Royal Veterinary Hospital in Potters Bar, where she remained for 10 days.
Dolly returned home on Thursday and seemed to be recovering but she became very ill over the weekend.
“The vet came out, but nothing she did helped,” Donna said. After talking it over with a couple of friends who knew a lot about cases like Dolly, they helped us understand that Dolly had long-term damage to her digestive system and that she was never going to properly recover.”